Ever wear a bikini? Then you can’t wear a tuxedo

Ceara Sturgis and her motherJessica posted a while back about Ceara Sturgis, a high school student in Mississippi who was left out of her high school yearbook because she wore a tuxedo in her picture. This is the same state where Constance McMillen was excluded from her prom and Coy Sheppard was kicked off the football team for wearing pink cleats. The ACLU filed suit on Sturgis’ behalf, and now, via a story from the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger and picked up by Jezebel comes word of the school district’s response: well, she wore a bikini to the senior pool party, so there.

Yes, Copiah County School District is seriously using the fact that Sturgis wore a bikini once to try to undermine a suit claiming it was discriminatory to leave her out of the yearbook because she was wearing a tuxedo in the picture. They responded to a suit about discrimination on the basis of sex and gender stereotypes with more stereotyping. I guess if a woman wears a bikini ever it precludes her from ever deciding to wear traditionally masculine clothing. Forget about the fact that people’s experiences and understandings of their gender change, or that no one fits perfectly into a narrow gender presentation box (OK, maybe there’s someone out there who wears a bikini or a tux every day, and more power to them!). I guess the fact Sturgis ever went to a school event and presented gender in a way the district was OK with means she should be expected to continue presenting on the school district’s terms.

If you, like me, have a huge problem with this (cissexist, heterosexist, transphobic, homophobic, misogynistic…) argument, you can contact the Copiah County School District here. And here’s where you can donate to the ACLU of Mississippi, because clearly they’ve got some battles to fight.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

Read more about Jos

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/elizabethj/ Elizabeth

    Let’s consider options for a pool party:

    1. Wear a bikini, be forced to conform to female gender expression forever
    2. Wear swim trunks, be escorted from the premises and possibly arrested for public nudity
    3. Wear a full outfit rather than a swimsuit, possibly avoid the pool entirely

    Even IF it was acceptable to expect someone to conform to the same gender expression at all times, I don’t think the pool party is a real great basis for that judgment. Really, what are her options?

    • http://feministing.com/members/teenagemalefeminist/ Ryan

      That’s why I hate swimming. Who decided that water and the forces of buoyancy prefer people in the gender binary?

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    That “logic” is like saying that a person must be heterosexual if he or she dated an opposite-sex partner, even one time, and even when in the process of coming to terms with his or her homosexuality.

  • http://feministing.com/members/mysticdoula/ Sarah

    Okay so she wears a bikini one time. Does that make the reverse logic true? I’ve worn a pair of mens trousers from time to time, so am I automatically lesbian or something? lol

    Their argument is such weaksauce that it makes them sound like they are grasping at straws here… “but…. but….. she wore a BIKINI this one time!!… yeah… that’s it….”

    lame.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sarahbee/ Sarah

    The argument is so ludicrous that I’m having serious trouble wrapping my head around the fact that someone even thought it in the first place, much less said it…